Thursday, March 23, 1865

Goldsboro, North Carolina

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Goldsborough, N. C., March 23, 1865.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, Commanding Armies of the United States, City Point, Va.:
On reaching Goldsborough this morning I found Lieutenant Dunn waiting for me with your letter of March 16 and dispatch of 17th. I wrote you fully from Cox’s Bridge yesterday, and since reaching Goldsborough have learned that my leter was sent punctually down to New Bern, whence it will be dispatched to you. I am very glad to hear that Sheridan did such good service between Richmond and Lynchburg, and hope he will keep the ball moving. I know these raids and dashes disconcert our enemy and discourage him.

Slocum’s two corps, Fourteenth and Twentieth, are now coming in, and I will dispose them north of Goldsborough, between the Weldon road and Little River. Howard today is marching south of the Neuse, and tomorrow will come in and occupy ground north of Goldsbrough, and extending from the Weldon railroad to that leading to Kinston. I have ordered all the provisional divisions made up of troops belonging to other corps to be broken up and the men to join their proper regiments and organizations, and have ordered Schofield to guard the railroads back to New Bern and Wilmington, and make up a movable column equal to 25,000 men with which to take the field. He will be my center as in the Atlanta campaign. I don’t think I want any more troops other than absentees and recruits to fill up the present regiments, but that I can make up an army of 80,000 men by April 10. I will put Kilpatrick out at Mount Olive Station, on the Wilmington road, and then allow the army some rest.

We have sent all our empty wagons under escort, with the proper staff officers, to bring up clothing and provisions. As long as we move we can gather food and forage, but the moment we stop trouble begins. I feel sadly disappointed that our railroads are not done. I don’t like to say that there has been any neglect until I make inquiries, but it does seem to me the repairs should have been made and the road properly stocked. I can only hear of one locomotive besides the four old ones on the New Bern road and two damaged locomotives found by Terry on the Wilmington road. I left Easton and Beckwith purposely to make arrangements in anticipation of my arival, and I have heard from neither, though I suppose them both to be at Morehead City.

At all events we have now made a junction of all the armies, and if we can maintain them will in a short time be in position to march against Raleigh, or Gaston, or Weldon, or even Richmond, as you may determine. If I get the troops all well placed, and the supplies working well, I might run up to see you for a day or two before diving again into the bowels of the country. I will make in a very short time accurate reports of our operations for the past two months.

Yours, truly,
W.T. Sherman, Major-General, Commanding.

Grant’s Letter:

Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, commanding military Division of the Mississippi.
GENERAL: Your interesting letter of the 12th inst. is just received. I have never felt any uneasiness for your safety, but I have felt great anxiety to know just how you were progressing. I knew, or thought I did, that, with the magnificent army with you, you would come out safely somewhere.
To secure certain success, I deemed the capture of Wilmington of the greatest importance. Butler came near losing that prize to us. But Terry and Schofield have since retrieved his blunders, and I do not know but the first failure has been as valuable a success for the country as the capture of Fort Fisher. Butler may not see it in that light.

Ever since you started on the last campaign, and before, I have been attempting to get something done in the West, both to cooperate with you and to take advantage of the enemy’s weakness there to accomplish results favorable to us. Knowing Thomas to be slow beyond excuse, I depleted his army to reinforce Canby, so that he might act from Mobile Bay on the interior. With all I have said, he has not moved at last advices. Canby was sending a cavalry force, of about seven thousand, from Vicksburg toward Selma. I ordered Thomas to send Wilson from Eastport toward the same point, and to get him off as soon after the 20th of February as possible. He telegraphed me that he would be off by that date. He has not yet started, or had not at last advices. I ordered him to send Stoneman from East Tennessee into Northwest South Carolina, to be there about the time you would reach Columbia. He would either have drawn off the enemy’s cavalry from you, or would have succeeded in destroying railroads, supplies, and other material, which you could not reach.

At that time the Richmond papers were full of the accounts of your movements, and gave daily accounts of movements in West North Carolina. I supposed all the time it was Stoneman. You may judge my surprise when I afterward learned that Stoneman was still in Louisville, Kentucky, and that the troops in North Carolina were Kirk’s forces! In order that Stoneman might get off without delay, I told Thomas that three thousand men would be sufficient for him to take. In the mean time I had directed Sheridan to get his cavalry ready, and, as soon as the snow in the mountains melted sufficiently, to start for Staunton, and go on and destroy the Virginia Central Railroad and canal. Time advanced, until he set the 28th of February for starting. I informed Thomas, and directed him to change the course of Stoneman toward Lynchburg, to destroy the road in Virginia up as near to that place as possible. Not hearing from Thomas, I telegraphed to him about the 12th, to know if Stoneman was yet off. He replied not, but that he (Thomas) would start that day for Knoxville, to get him off as soon as possible.

Sheridan has made his raid, and with splendid success, so far as heard. I am looking for him at “White House” today. Since about the 20th of last month the Richmond papers have been prohibited from publishing accounts of army movements. We are left to our own resources, therefore, for information. You will see from the papers what Sheridan has done; if you do not, the officer who bears this will tell you all.

Lee has depleted his army but very little recently, and I learn of none going south. Some regiments may have been detached, but I think no division or brigade. The determination seems to be to hold Richmond as long as possible. I have a force sufficient to leave enough to hold our lines (all that is necessary of them), and move out with plenty to whip his whole army. But the roads are entirely impassable. Until they improve, I shall content myself with watching Lee, and be prepared to pitch into him if he attempts to evacuate the place. I may bring Sheridan over–think I will–and break up the Danville and Southside Railroads. These are the last avenues left to the enemy.

Recruits have come in so rapidly at the West that Thomas has now about as much force as he had when he attacked Hood. I have stopped all who, under previous orders, would go to him, except those from Illinois.

Fearing the possibility of the enemy falling back to Lynchburg, and afterward attempting to go into East Tennessee or Kentucky, I have ordered Thomas to move the Fourth Corps to Bull’s Gap, and to fortify there, and to hold out to the Virginia line, if he can. He has accumulated a large amount of supplies in Knoxville, and has been ordered not to destroy any of the railroad west of the Virginia Hue. I told him to get ready for a campaign toward Lynchburg, if it became necessary. He never can make one there or elsewhere; but the steps taken will prepare for any one else to take his troops and come east or go toward Rome, whichever may be necessary. I do not believe either will.

When I hear that you and Schofield are together, with your back upon the coast, I shall feel that you are entirely safe against any thing the enemy can do. Lee may evacuate Richmond, but he cannot get there with force enough to touch you. His army is now demoralized and deserting very fast, both to us and to their homes. A retrograde movement would cost him thousands of men, even if we did not follow.

Five thousand men, belonging to the corps with you, are now on their way to join you. If more reenforcements are necessary, I will send them. My notion is, that you should get Raleigh as soon as possible, and hold the railroad from there back. This may take more force than you now have.

From that point all North Carolina roads can be made useless to the enemy, without keeping up communications with the rear.

Hoping to hear soon of your junction with the forces from Wilmington and New Bern, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

General EASTON, Kinston Bridge:
I am sending wagons down for the supplies, and shall put a regiment at work at this end. Look to increasing the transportation by water up Neuse River as near Kinston as possible and we can haul from there. This to be in excess of the capacity of the railroad. All my army is now here and coming in.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Goldsborough, March 23, 1865.
Colonel WRIGHT, Morehead City:
Report to me the condition of the railroad. Employ at any cost laborers to put both the Wilmington and New Bern branches in order. Hire three gangs at each point, to work each eight hours, calling it a day, so that you may do three days’ work in twenty-four hours. My army is now coming in and all will be here today and tomorrow. I was much disappointed that this was not already done. Cars must carry into Kinston at once supplies. I will put an engineer regiment at once to work from this end. You can have as many details as you want. Expedition is the thing.
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI, In the Field, Goldsborough, N. C., March 23, 1865.
Brigadier General L. C. EASTON, Chief Quartermaster, Morehead City:
I have made junction of my armies at Goldsborough a few days later than I appointed, but I find neither railroads completed, nor have I a word or sign from you or General Beckwith of the vast stores of supplies I hoped to meet here or hear of. We have sent wagons to Kinston in hopes to get something there, but at all events I should know what has been done and what is being done. I have constantly held out to the officers and men to bear patiently the want of clothing and other necessaries, for at Goldsborough awaited us everything. If you can expedite the movement of stores from the sea to the army, do so, and don’t stand on expenses.

The repairs should always be three details of workers, of eight hours each, making twenty-four hours per day of work on every job, whether building a bridge, unloading vessels, loading cars, or what not. Draw everything you need from Savannah, Port Royal, Charleston, &c., for this emergency, and don’t let the delay we had at Savannah recur. Remember that we want the stores and nothing else. We don’t want a pemanent establishment at Morehead city, at New Bern, or here. Our wagons are our store-houses. I must be off again in twenty days, with wagons full, men reclad, &c.
Yours, truly,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General

I met with General Schofield. He requests that Generals Cox and Terry be made Corp Commanders so his army can be divided into two corps. I endorse his proposal. I know that General Cox is a good officer, and General Terry has the best possible reputation. General Schofield will want two corps organizations as quick as possible.

Colonel Treat, chief commissary of subsistence of General Schofield’s army, reports subsistence stores for Military Division of the Mississippi to the amount of 400,000 rations, and more arriving daily, which will be forwarded as fast as wagons arrive. General Beckwith is at Morehead City.

Howard is at Falling Creek and will arrive here tomorrow. There is a large mail for his command. He needs to send to New Bern and retrieve it. There are There is also lots of boots, shoes, socks, and other quartermaster’s stores at New Bern waiting for our wagons to haul.

The Seventeenth Corp quartermaster has found supplies at Kinston:

I arrived here with the train at 2 o’clock this p. m. The road I came on is very good, and I will send the train back on the same road loaded with five days’ rations for the corps, and one-quarter of clothing at this point, which amounts to 600 hats, 3,000 blouses, 3,000 pants, 600 cavalry pants, 7,500 shirts, 3,000 drawers, 9,300 shoes, 1,800 boots, 4,500 stockings, and a few other articles of no consequence. The above is hardly enough for one division, but Colonel Conklin assures me I can get all the stores I want, consequently I will remain here until I do receive them. The railroad bridge is not finished across the river at this point. Stores will be slow in coming to the front. You will please order all the wagons to be emptied and sent at once to this point. I will see they are loaded with something. I will have all the wagons here loaded before I go to bed tonight, to be ready to start at daylight tomorrow morning. I have just heard that a large mail will be here some time during the night. I will retain wagons and send it as soon as I can.
E. M. JOEL, Lieutenant Colonel and Chief Quartermaster, Seventeenth Army Corps.

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